Sixty-two young MBAs and CAs who were recruited by Airtel last year from top campuses all over the country were going through a three-day leadership workshop last week. Interestingly, Airtel does not call them management trainees but young leaders. These young leaders go through a one-year training period, attached to different kinds of functions across the country.
Nothing speeds up the transfer of knowledge and know-how, or enhances individual development more than quality, one-on-one dialogue between a person of experience and a new kid on the block. Each young leader in Airtel has a mentor and dedicated team in the corporate office facilitating the learning and training of the young leader.
It can be frustrating, particularly for talented up-and-coming youngsters, if they are asked to wait their turn before getting the opportunity to contribute to important projects or initiatives in organisations.
This is not only demotivating but counter-productive to performance as opportunities to contribute depend more on tenure and pecking order than merit.
Airtel has created a fast-paced, merit-based growth path for these young leaders that will help them make significant contributions faster. The organisation sends constant messages that they are creating the companys next generation of ideas, products and leaders through the young leader programme. Most senior executives in organisations say that talent management is one of their foremost concerns. Yet, a majority of the business leaders and human resources professionals interviewed in a McKinsey study say that a lack of time and attention from senior executives and line managers is one of the principal barriers to managing talent effectively.
The empowered workforce of the next generation will require monitoring and strategic talent decision-making. To get the most from young leaders who are short of experience, ambitious, virtually connected and prepared to be authoritative on the job, organisations will have to distribute leadership responsibilities throughout the organisation. Any talent management programme for young professionals should have the involvement of the top leadership and strategic intent. It is much more than an induction programme and goes way beyond an orientation programme. Having a clear understanding of the kind of talent that we want to nurture and the culture that one needs to create would help as blueprints in assessing talent. Airtel, for example, has a young leader profile illustrating five competencies.
This framework helps in assessment and selection. It is important foremost to believe that people are the customers most important asset.